Re: Religious Restrictions on Training
I find it interesting that many here prefer to prevent any contact with people of a different culture. Is this the spirit of Aikido?
For such a religious person (might be an Orthodox Jew, Islamic, or a Nun with such Vows, or any other religion) to come and intend to train on a mixed sex dojo, is already making a great step and lots of concessions. Even if he will not train with women directly, he might still touch a women by accident, he will see women around him. In many ways, that person is embracing the liberal concept of "for each his own". A difficult concept for most religions, which too often impose their views on the world .
Rejecting such a person, and discriminating against him, seems to me as counter productive.
So you will not be able to teach him in your way 100% and he has already set clear boundaries he does not intend to break. Don't everyone do that? (I have yet to see students who realize in advance the change Martial Training will affect on them, or any who can predict this change). Isn't his willingness to learn from a different tradition, his openness, worthy of some accommodations? Isn't it better to give the additional viewpoints of another society to people who belong in another?
The teacher has a choice, it is not the best one, rather of the lesser evil:
- Discriminate against religious people - not letting the train at all.
- Discriminate against women\men - accept some student who will only train with others of the same sex.
Note, the women\men would not directly train with these specific people in any case: these people will either train only with people of their own sex or not train at all.
In my own opinion, the balance is clear. I believe that in the long run, all will benefit from such accommodations. Knowing others of different culture, learning to be really tolerant to different customs, even after they contradict your own beliefs and customs. This is the true meaning of liberal, and "freedom of and from religion" - not just to live according to your own faith, but to accommodate those who follow a different path.
Some of you refer to the Dojo as a private place. I disagree, a dojo, is a public place, even if you hold it in your own yard. The dojo is open to the general public, it is not the same is being in your home.
My Sensei once faced this dilemma, he decided to accommodate the student, who trained with our group, but did not train with any of the women. Even if it meant he had to wait a round.
Some other students, refuse to bow to the Shomen. We let them live with their beliefs too. It does not hurt anyone.
While Sensei accommodates these students, he does not impose their rules on anyone else: we had training camps on Sabbath, even if they could not join (Sensei checked when most could and decided accordingly). We have women trainees (including some Yundasha) - they are not discriminated.